News / Economy

US Unemployment Benefits Set to Run Out

Out-of-work Americans will lose federal assistance unless Congress extends it

More than a year into a weak economic recovery, the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent.
More than a year into a weak economic recovery, the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent.
TEXT SIZE - +

Hundreds of thousands of Americans will see their federal unemployment benefits expire this week, and millions more by the end of the year, unless Congress acts to extend them.

The payments are designed to provide the jobless with just enough temporary income to cover basic needs while they look for work. Congress has repeatedly prolonged the duration of those payments amid high U.S. unemployment but another extension is far from assured.

More than a year into a weak economic recovery, the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent. Millions of Americans have been without work for a year or more, taking a severe financial - and often emotional - blow.

In Pennsylvania, unemployed sales manager Gregg Rosen has cut back on everything from food to medication, and can no longer help support his disabled mother.

"That devastates me," he said.

Many idled workers are frustrated.

"I've been out looking for work every day, and I'm just not getting anywhere," said one unemployed worker in Rhode Island.

President Barack Obama has consistently pressed Congress to extend federal benefits for the unemployed. "We've got a responsibility to help them make ends meet and support their families even as they are looking for another job," he said.

But Capitol Hill is bracing for a repeat of the last extension battle in July, when Republicans objected to further benefits unless other federal spending was cut by an equal amount.

"The bill before us today is the ninth extension of unemployment benefits since mid-2008," said Rep. Charles Boustany, a Louisiana Republican. "And with the exception of just one bill last November, every one of those extensions was not paid for. That's a total of $135 billion added to our $14 trillion debt."

Analysts note that unemployment benefits are meant to be temporary, but the severity of the recession and the slow pace of the economic recovery have led many Americans to rely on the program for a prolonged period.

"People say 'You do not want to discourage people from looking for work by giving them too generous an income replacement,'" says Eric Toder, an economist and former U.S. Treasury official. "I think the feeling is now that there isn't 10 percent unemployment because people aren't looking for work. There is high unemployment because there aren't jobs."

Toder adds that the unemployed usually spend all the benefits they receive, providing stimulus to the economy as a whole.

Extending unemployment benefits is but one of many items Democrats hope to achieve in a brief end-of-year congressional session. Passage is considered likely in the House of Representatives, but questionable in the Senate, where Republicans can use procedural motions to block legislation.

Some jobless workers have mounted protests in the past to press for an extension of benefits, and say they stand ready to do so again - even at a cost to their pride.

"You know I'm not used to this," said one unemployed woman who was among the protesters. "I don't want to be begging people."

Most economists expect the unemployment rate to remain above nine percent for months to come.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7217
JPY
USD
102.17
GBP
USD
0.5949
CAD
USD
1.1009
INR
USD
60.326

Rates may not be current.